How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

Sour cream is a great ingredient to have on hand for cooking. It adds an extra layer of flavor to many dishes, including soups, casseroles, and baked potatoes. You can also use sour cream as a topping for vegetables, fish, sandwiches, tacos, and more.

Sour cream is made from fresh whole milk that has been soured by lactic acid bacteria. The bacterial cultures are added to the milk before pasteurization; this culture converts some of the lactose into lactic acid, which lowers the pH.

Since sour cream is a dairy product, they tend to not last very long. In this guide, I’ll go through in detail how long sour creams last, how to store them, and when to throw them out.

How Long Does Sour Cream Last?

Sour cream has a freshness shelf life of only 14 days if kept in the fridge and it’s unopened. If it’s opened, it will last for only 10 days.

If you freeze sour cream, they can be kept for up to 6 months.

If you’re planning to use them within 2 weeks, the best way to store sour cream is in the refrigerator. The door shelves, however, are not the place where you should store them because it tends to get warm there and that’s not good for its freshness. What’s more, this dairy product also does not like light, so make sure it is tightly covered!

If you’ve bought sour cream from the grocery store, there will be an expiration date printed on the package. The sour cream will still be safe to eat beyond that point. Make sure to use the sour cream within 2 weeks after the expiration date. If you need to keep them longer, place them into the freezer.

How to Tell When Sour Cream Is Spoiled?

Sour cream is made using dairy. Dairy we buy from stores is made by removing all the bacteria in it. So they can last longer. But as I mentioned earlier dairy with lactic acid-making bacteria is called sour cream. This means live organisms are living in the sour cream. So there is no surprise about the 21-day expiring date right?

So now you are holding some sour cream in your spoon to add to your salad. How to know whether it’s gone bad or not?

First, take a good look at it. You can see discolorations if it has gone bad. The color might be yellow sometimes. The reason for this is molds and bacteria. Do not eat sour cream, it could make you sick.

The other way to tell if your sour cream is bad is the smell of it. Any dairy product, especially sour cream has a smell to it. If you experience a more foul smell than normal that’s a sign of expired sour cream.

If you come across either of these conditions it is best to throw it away.

How to Store Sour Cream

If you leave the sour cream container at room temperature for longer periods that’s the first mistake you will make. The recommended temperature for storing sour cream is 40°F in the refrigerator.

Always make sure not to open the lid of the sour cream container for too long. That causes bacteria from outside to creep into the container.

Another thing is always to use a clean spoon to take sour cream out of the container. Never let things from the outside mix with the sour cream inside the container.

How to Make Sour Cream at Home

First, you have to get these ingredients. There are quite common in any household. If not you can buy them from any store.

  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¾ teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

This is really easy to make. First, mix milk and vinegar together. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the heavy cream into a container with a lid. Make sure it’s not a metal one. Glass is the ideal choice.

Then add the milk vinegar mix to heavy cream. Mix them well and let them sit for 24 hours. Technically after that, your sour cream is ready. But I recommend you to keep it in the fridge before use.

Okay now even if you ran out of sour cream, you know how to make them again.

How to Add Sour Cream to Your Food

I will tell you five ways to add sour cream to your meal.

  1. Try on pasta, casseroles, and soup. You can let any of these dishes cool down before adding a good chunk of sour cream into them. The idea is to make savory dishes taste better by adding dairy into them. Try it out with sour cream you will enjoy better tastes.
  2. Do you know that sour cream can be used as an alternative to mayonnaise? Sandwiches come to mind when you think about a food that you add mayonnaise. Actually in my opinion sandwiches tastes ten times better with sour cream. Especially with a meat filling or tuna.
  3. Yes, have you tried sour cream as a salad dressing? Sour cream makes a great alternative to mayonnaise. But sour cream has less acidity. If you are trying to make salads with less acidity, sour cream is your best option.
  4. Have you ever tried really fluffy and tender cake? The secret is sour cream. When you are baking something add some sour cream into them. It’s like adding more heavy cream and a little acidity to your bakings. You will be amazed by the results you get.
  5. All the above food are either hot or dry ones. How about something cooler now? Smoothies and Ice Cream? Yes, you read correctly. You can add some sour cream to your ice cream smoothie recipes. The tastes will be great.

Above are few things you can add sour cream to, but there are plenty more foods you can add sour cream to.


Sour cream is an ingredient you can add to many dishes you make at home. It’s quite easy to make at home as well. Now you know how sour cream will look when it goes bad. There are few methods to slow the expiration process. But no matter how careful you are it is hard to have sour cream for more than 14 days.